If you have never stayed with a host family abroad, the experience can seem daunting, especially if you’ve never been away from home. However, living in a homestay can teach you a lot about different cultures and allows you the opportunity to gain some important life skills.
My junior year of high school I traveled to Spain to take Spanish classes for about a month, and I made the decision to live with a host family for the first time. I had no idea what to expect and was actually pretty nervous to leave my family for a whole month to live with a family I had never met before. Looking back now, it’s funny to think about how nervous I got because by the end of the experience they felt like a second family. I’ve found I’ve had the same experience with every host family I’ve had since. Each host family is really happy to have you there and want you to feel comfortable in this new place. I’ve gained a lot from living in homestays as I learned and improved on valuable skills that would help me throughout my life.
Below are some things you learn from living with a homestay!
1. How to Adapt
Being able to adapt in new places and situations is an important skill everyone should have. The ability to adapt allows you to adjust to change more easily. It can help you in many different life situations. While living with a host family you will learn how to adapt with new people, cultures, and places. Exploring your city is a great way to adjust to your new surroundings and allows you to become more comfortable with getting around. Before or while you’re there do some research on your surrounding city and the area you’ll be living in. If you have your host family’s address, look them up on a map before getting there so you have an idea of where they’re placed in the city. Maybe even search some nearby restaurants or stores you would like to check out. Learning about a place can really help ease the transition into living in a new place.
2. Greater Sense of Confidence
Living in a homestay pushes you to immerse yourself into new things. Whether it is trying to learn a new language or trying out some new food, you’ll find that you’ll be more open to new experiences. You’re already gaining confidence by choosing to live with a host family!
Living with a host family provides you with the opportunity to learn about a country’s cultural and family values. You might even find that these values don’t differ much from your own. It’s important to learn about other cultures as it makes you more aware of other cultures’ morals and standards. Understanding other’s cultures teaches you to understand more about people’s personalities and attitudes towards certain topics.
4. New Languages
Adjusting in a new place can be difficult especially when you don’t know the language. Living with a host family allows you to surround yourself with a language. This is a great opportunity to learn a language. Don’t be afraid to mess up either. Your host family isn’t there to judge you. They’ll be happy to see you are making an effort. Even if it’s just over meals, you’ll have the chance to practice speaking another language!
5. New Foods
Speaking of meals, some of the best food I’ve had, has been cooked by my host families. You can learn a lot about a country through their cuisine. When I lived with host families in Ecuador I learned that different regions follow different eating patterns and the meals that have revolve around what is offered in their region. I stayed in three different regions; the Andes, the coast, and the amazon. In the Andes we ate in courses. The first course started with either a soup or salad. Sometimes we would even be treated with a fruit smoothie or fresh juice. We then would get our main course, usually chicken or beef, which was either accompanied by lentils, beans or rice. When we were finished they would always bring out an assortment tea. In another region such as the coast a lot of my meals were seafood and rice based. I ate a lot of different types of seafood along with a starch each day. It’s amazing how much you can learn from food!
6. Deeper Insights
No one knows a country better than the locals, and usually your host family will have the inside scoop to the town. While living with my host family in Spain, my host mom was able to teach me how to use the train as well as tell me the fastest way to get to school. Don’t be shy to ask them for directions or recommendations. Your host family will be happy to help.
Feeling inspired to have a host family experience of your own? Check out these Greenheart Travel programs!
Have you had a homestay experience while traveling abroad? What did you learn from your host family? Comment below!